December 10, 2013

Maine panel gets proposals to revamp education

State lawmakers will examine a report’s findings in deciding whether to propose changes in the way schools are funded.

By Noel K. Gallagher ngallagher@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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Acting Education Commissioner Jim Rier said Monday that his staff was “anxious to completely review the report,” although it was too early to know how it will play out since much of it consists of recommendations for consideration.

State officials and lawmakers have long debated aspects of the formula, he said.

“It helps to have someone else raising some of these points we’ve looked at before,” Rier said. “There will be a lot of discussion.”

Earlier this year, Picus & Associates reported that Maine’s per-pupil expenditures for K-12 education were among the highest in the United States, but low compared with the rest of New England. It also found that while school funding has grown in recent years, students’ performance has remained relatively flat.

Test scores compared with the rest of the country are relatively strong, the report said, but about average in New England.

According to recent U.S. Census data, from 1999-2000 to 2009-2010 state and local revenue for public K-12 education in Maine grew from $1.62 billion to $2.35 billion, or 45 percent.

During the same period, state and local revenue for K-12 education in all 50 states increased by 49.4 percent.

From 1999-2000 to 2009-10, Maine’s per pupil expenditures grew from $7,595 to $12,259, an increase of 61.4 percent. Average per pupil expenditures on a national level increased from $6,836 to $10,600, a 55.1 percent increase.

Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at:

ngallagher@pressherald.com

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